- The Washington Times
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The District government worker accused of shooting and killing a teen boy in January in Northeast was charged with second-degree murder after turning himself in to police Tuesday.

Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said Jason Lewis, 41, was taken into custody after police obtained a signed warrant for his arrest Monday for the fatal Jan. 7 shooting of 13-year-old Karon Blake. Mr. Lewis works for the Department of Parks and Recreation.

A judge ordered Mr. Lewis held without bond after denying a request from his defense attorney for home confinement.

The judge said that the “exceptionally concerning” circumstances of his case — including that Mr. Lewis is accused of committing the violent act at his home — ultimately pushed the judge in that direction.

His next court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 13.

“Mr. Lewis maintains his innocence,” Lee Smith, Mr. Lewis‘ attorney, said in a statement after the Tuesday arraignment hearing. “While this is certainly a tragedy, once all the facts are heard, I believe that a jury will find that there was no crime here.”

According to the probable cause affidavit, Mr. Lewis told police that Karon was running toward him when he fired the shots that ultimately killed the teen.

Police said the teen arrived on the 1000 block of Quincy Street NE shortly before 4 a.m. with other unidentified people in a Kia Sportage that was stolen from elsewhere in Northeast.

Security camera footage from a nearby home captures the group shining flashlights through car windows on the block, according to the affidavit. Two vehicles on the block had their windows smashed, while a third had “multiple circular strike marks.”

Mr. Lewis, who lives on the street, told responding officers on the day of the incident that he woke up when heard what sounded like someone banging on something.

He grabbed his legally registered firearm and went outside to check on things when he saw “youngsters” dressed in black, and called out to them, asking what they were doing.

That’s when Mr. Lewis fired a shot that hit the Kia Sportage, Chief Contee said, describing the Kia as a “getaway vehicle.”

“Mr. Lewis felt threatened at that point — I don’t know, I can only speculate there — but I think that’s when things really unravel,” Chief Contee said Tuesday. “It was just the initial shot that was fired, that kind of put the chain of events into place.”

The teen appeared to be running toward the Kia before the first shot hit the vehicle, according to the affidavit. When he stopped and then began running toward the defendant, Mr. Lewis shot him multiple times.

Karon can be heard on the home security video yelling “I am sorry,” “please don’t” and “no” numerous times, as well as “I’m a kid” and “I’m only 12,” after the fatal shots, according to the affidavit.

“The Blake family deserves justice, and now we are one step closer to holding Karon‘s killer accountable,” Ward 5 Council member Zachary Parker said in a statement Tuesday.

Mr. Parker was critical of the police department’s handling of the investigation.

“It took almost one month to press charges, during which the Ward 5 community was given few answers, allowing misinformation and speculation to spread,” Mr. Parker’s statement continued. “Community members understandably have questions about whether justice would have come swifter if Karon‘s background and circumstances were different, or if Jason Lewis was not an employee of the District of Columbia. In addition, the Metropolitan Police Department must account for the perceived preferential treatment provided to Jason Lewis in this case.”

The incident sparked a public outcry in the District over the use of deadly force to defend property.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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